Sunday, June 11, 2006

The HOG Rally

So this weekend I was the entertainment for the Colorado State HOG Rally. HOG stands for Harley owners group.

I'd been looking forward to this event since they initially asked me to do it. If you've been reading my blog you'll know I like to ride and that I just got a new bike. I fact it still has the temporary tag on it. Just because I'm not paying the unbelievable license fee until I absolutely have to. In fact It runs out on June 20. You better believe I will be the last one in the license office that day.

So I'd been watching the weather carefully all week and was happy to see a clear weekend coming up. I even decided to come in a day early to take in some of the events. So instead of leaving on Saturday, I left on Friday.

I had the usual drama in the office before I left. I am the king of leaving after I want to. I always set my ABSOLUTE time a couple hours ahead of the real absolute time. That's just so I can hit the mark. Fridays ABSOLUTE time was 2:00 in the afternoon. I ended up leaving at 3:30. Of course I also had to make a stop in Canon City (which is actually on the way) to see one of my computer clients.

When I got there I discovered I had forgotten my leather jacket, so I had to go back. I am also the king of forgetting things. If it can be left behind I'll leave it. My rule is that if I have to add more than an hour to the trip or spend over $100 to replace it once I get there, I'm going back for it.

So once I really left at 4:30 it was with a big grin on my face that stayed there the entire ride. The drive to Glenwood Springs is 200 miles and goes over Independence Pass. Which I will tell you still has some snow on the road. Man it was cold!

But I made it in about 8:15. I am staying at the "Historic" Hotel Colorado. Now I didn't pick the hotel, it was provided by the people who hired me. That is customary. But since I came in a day early I did pay for my room the first night. At the desk when they told me the special "rally rate" was $116 a night the only thing in my mind was "Where exactly is the Motel Six?"

They must say "Historic" because it is as it was in the early 1900's. There is no air conditioning, 12 foot ceilings and you can see all the pipes running through the room. But they (the pipes) are painted! There is one small radiator in front of the window for heat in the winter. Oh boy!

But it meets my minimum standard; cable, Internet connection, a good shower and a comfortable bed. So once I settled in the next thing on my agenda was finding something to eat. Well the "Historic" Hotel Colorado is remodeling their dining room (and bar) so all dining is outside of in the hall ways. As I walked out of my room there was a nice family complete with a crying child outside my door eating. I closed the door and called Dominos.

An hour later I was fed and ready for Saturday's rally. Little did I know I was not prepared for what was about to happen.....

I wake in the morning to the sound of one bike after another passing by my window, that was great. The hotel has a coffee bar so I was on my way down to get a cup of coffee and what do I see? This big biker looking guy and his girlfriend/wife/squeeze walking together holding hands wearing matching outfits! What? Am I in some sort of Bizzaro biker universe? I've been riding since 1973 and back in the day I would have never see that. If that were to happen mercifully that man would have beaten until he understood what riding a Harley was all about.

When I get to the coffee bar I was in line behind another guy dressed the part; chaps, do rag, Harley shirt and boots. He was ordering a (say this in a gay voice) decaf sugar free vanilla latte with soy milk, a "sprinkle" of cinnamon at 128 degrees. All right, he didn't gay it in a gay way. I just heard it that way. At that point all I could do was run out of the shop, out of the hotel and into the street. Hoping that I would get run over by an old pan head to put me out of my misery.

Holy shit!

So I head down to where everything is happening and meet up with JD the event coordinator. He couldn't be a nicer guy. He's only a couple of years older that I am but had been riding since he was able to walk. Finally I am in the presence of someone that understands.

He showed me where I was performing and it is actually on an ice arena!. It is kind of indoors. If you can picture a a regular hockey rink with a car port over it, that's what this place looks like. It should be interesting.

So I've never been to a rally before and he shows me around and gets me signed up. Then asks me if I want to take a ride to the first stop on the poker run. We had a nice ride and when we got there had a nice breakfast and talked about life. My breakfast was eggs, refried beans, potatoes, salsa and a dirty beer. I've never had one of those before. It's a beer with tomato juice and horseradish in it. I'm not much of a drinker but the beer was pretty good.

My limit is only one so after that we headed back to the event and I started to do a little people watching. And you guys are really something.....

The events and people watching were fun but I had to go back to the hotel to get a little rest before the show at 6:00. I'm a lightweight so a beer and all that sun made me tired.

After a nice afternoon and a nap I made it back to the events center by 5:30 and I have to admit I should have seen it coming. There is an old saying in the comedy business "There is no funny when it's sunny".

There were between 400 - 500 people sitting in the middle of the ice arena at long tables. They were passing out the awards for the event but everyone was having trouble hearing the speaker because the sound system wasn't working very well.

During the awards ceremony the event coordinator (remember JD?) announced his retirement from the rally. So after the ceremony was over and they introduced me before I could get started someone walked up to the stage because they had something they wanted to say about JD. That happened 3 times.

So when I finally did start people got up and left. Now that is normal for an event like this. Some people just don't stay for the entertainment. They want to get going to eat, miss traffic or whatever. But as I continued the leaving did not stop. They looked like rats running out of a burning building. By the time I was done there were only about 40 people left and they were the ones that were there to break down the tables and chairs.

At this point you need to understand that I normally do not "walk people". Meaning they are so offended by what I am saying that they leave. In my 14 years of doing comedy I am only aware of walking fewer than 20 people. At this show nearly 500 people got up and left.

Let me say that show as one of the most difficult shows I have ever done. It's a good thing that I have my ego in check because that could have really hurt. But the truth is even as it was happening while I wasn't happy about it, I understood the dynamics of the situation. Plus I have faith in what I'm doing on stage. The material I was using has always worked, so I know it was not me. It was just the situation.

So after I finished the event staff (the only people left) explained......

Apparently this happens all the time. The people are tired, hot and just want to get a jump on getting home Sunday. They have had the same thing happen with band and other forms of entertainment in the past. They were hoping that they would stay for something different.

It would have been nice if you'd told me.

So I stayed to help break down the tables and chairs because I had nothing else to so. I was also invited to their finally dinner and had a great time with them.

On the way out JD told me that he told his wife that their circle of friends grew by one. But mine grew by more than that. I met some really nice people at that rally and they are people I'll be seeing again.

It's funny how something so good can come out of something so bad.

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